UNGA 2020: pandemic highlights growing poverty and lack of solidarity, Moroccan PM says

Saadeddine Othmani appealed urged banks to relieve other African nations' debt to help them tackle Covid-19

In this image made from UNTV video, Saad-Eddine El Othmani, prime minister of Morocco, speaks in a pre-recorded message which was played during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, at U.N. headquarters. (UNTV via AP)
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The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted growing poverty, uncontrolled environmental breakdown and ineffective international co-operation since the turn of the millennium, said the Moroccan Prime Minister, Saadeddine Othmani.

Mr Othmani told the 75th UN General Assembly on Saturday that the problems were there before the pandemic, but the global health crisis made the need for solutions more urgent.

“We have nine years left to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals," he said by videolink. "The success of our 2030 agenda will depend on the choices we make today.

"Our commitment is all the more important in the middle of pandemic as it affects the most vulnerable, especially in Africa."

Mr Othmani appealed to world banks to relieve other nations on the continent of their debt to help them tackle Covid-19.

This week, Zambia asked investors in US dollar bonds to accept delays in interest payments into 2021, in what would be the first African debt default on private creditors since the start of the pandemic.

“Morocco calls on the international financial institutions to adopt and implement concrete guidelines to reduce the debt of those countries and allow them to limit the impact of the pandemic on their development,” Mr Othmani said.

He said that global powers must use the pandemic as an opportunity to rebuild a more efficient and effective multilateral system.

Mr Othmani said the security of Morocco was linked to that of Libya, which has been in a civil war for six years.

“The security and humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate as a result of foreign interference, including military intervention," he said.

"The only solution is a political one decided by Libyans themselves, with the support of the international community and without foreign interference."

Mr Othmani said Morocco remained committed to providing a forum of neutral dialogue between the two Libyan sides, having hosted them in early September.

He then moved on to other regional problems.

“Mr President, failure to settle the Palestinian question and to resume the Middle East peace process is a source of grave concern,” Mr Othmani said.

“There can be no just or lasting peace unless the Palestinian people can exercise their legitimate right to establish an independent and viable state with Jerusalem as its capital.

"We categorically reject all of the unilateral measures taken by the Israeli authorities in the occupied Palestinian territories, whether in the West Bank or in Jerusalem.

"Those measures only fuel tension and instability in the region."

He said Morocco's King Mohammed VI had always called for Jerusalem to be protected as humanity's common heritage and a symbol for mutual respect, dialogue and peaceful coexistence among the three Abrahamic religions.

Mr Othmani added his heartfelt condolences and support to Lebanon after the explosion at Beirut port in early August.

Morocco has provided medical and humanitarian assistance to the Lebanese people at the behest of King Mohammed.